Over the last 26 days of 2016, I have been trying to catch up with my bible reading plan for 2015. Yes 2015, I only managed to get through 30% of it, so how I am hoping to catch up in 2016 and still get through the 2016 plan is still a mystery. Anywho, over the last few weeks I have been reading the book of 2 Chronicles, I am likely to finalise this 2015 bible reading plan using this book. Today I was reading the story of King Hezekiah; after so many kings who failed to live up to God’s calling over their lives, Hezekiah is refreshingly different.
Hezekiah has helped the Israelites to restore God’s place in their lives. He has led them into getting rid of the other ‘gods’ and erecting altars to honor God. No sooner have they finished this reforms, do the Assyrians decide to attack the Israelites. From the look of things, Assyrians have harassed all the nations around them, and they are hell-bent to destroy Israel. However, Hezekiah is convinced that God will come through for them.
Assyrians laugh these statements off. Listen to what they say, 2 Chronicles 32:13 ‘“Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power? Which of their gods was able to rescue its people from the destructive power of my predecessors? What makes you think your God can rescue you from me? Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you! Don’t let him fool you like this! I say it again—no god of any nation or kingdom has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors. How much less will your God rescue you from my power!”
Asyrians seem to be raising some valid points, they are saying that they have destroyed everyone else and asking the Israelites why they thing they are any diferent. They have planted seeds of fear, and done a good job at it.
Taunted and harassed….
As I listen to Assyrians, I cannot help but think about the animals in my life that are tagging at me, the ones that are shamelessly taunting me, declaring that there is no way I can emerge victorious. Planting seeds of fear!
We are in the process of planning the graduation of the second cohort of Lapid Leaders. Over the last few weeks, the Lapid Leaders have tirelessly worked to bring this graduation together. This involved them fundraising for the graduation as we do not have the finances to cover the event. Each of the graduates had been given a target of the amount of money to raise.
Yester evening one of the graduates called to tell me that they would not make it to the graduation (for the sake of this blog I will call her Joy *not her real name*). Over the last few months Joy has been looking for a job without much success. Her family is also facing significant financial constraints. So yester she got to the point where she reconciled with the fact that she could not make to raise the finances needed to attend the graduation.
As I listened to her, I knew everything she was saying made logical sense, but I told her what I am trying to make my 2016 motto, ‘DO NOT LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK’! In that moment, we talked about her Lapid Leaders Experience; how it had been a journey of faith, how her greatest lesson – the one thing that she will take with her from the whole experience – is that ‘Never let fear hold you back’. We finished that conversation still without the money but convinced that one way or another, she would be part of the graduation.
2015…A year of faith
When I look back to 2015, the highs and the lows, they all merge at this point, ‘never let fear hold you back’. There were steps we took that were illogical. Many times we took those steps in the midst of Assyrians taunting us, but like Hezekiah we refused to let fear hold us back. One of the things I love about this my new motto is that it does not take away the fact that fear will be there, the Assyrians will knock, but my response will be as Hezekiah’s, ‘Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!”’
I have come to believe that fear is the greatest weapon the enemy had with the Assyrians, and it still is the greatest weapon he has today. When you are faced by Assyrians, people who have destroyed every other nation, it’s easier to let fear hold you back. Like Joy, many times those Assyrians of our day are finances. I still remember moments in 2015 when I had no idea where finances would come from, how would the team land in Kigali. But we refused to let fear hold us back, weeks later we have an amazing report to show for it (check it out here), but more than that, we know ONLY GOD!
What has God called you to do in 2016? What is the dream that God has placed in your heart? Where has He called you to serve Him from? What’s your excuse? Who are the Assyrians around you? Like Abraham, God still calls us today to leave our lands, often clueless on where He is leading us but sure of this one thing, He will take you through it all.
In 2016, I choose to keep on, to fight on; fear at the sleeve of my shoulder but more than the fear, a faith in a God who every step of the way remains so faithful. I choose to take even more steps in faith. I choose to believe God for the graduation for many more Joy’s. Joy is still jobless, Joy will still not afford the monies for the graduation, but the lessons she has learned through the experience are lessons of a lifetime. I look forward to the day I write the story of how Joy has become a great leader, I see in her a solution provider to Africa’s problems, I see a leader waiting to be unleashed.
Joy, never let fear hold you back. This is your time, this is our time; the how and when belong to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob